I just finished a big experiment. Over the past year, I have been reading through the Bible using YouVersion on my iPod touch and my phone. Last night, I finished the One Year M’Cheyne reading plan.  It was a little strange at first reading the Bible on a tiny screen, but it didn’t take long to adjust. I found myself reading the Bible at all different times of the day. Whenever I had a few minutes to spare, I could easily start the app and start reading. Whether I was waiting in the car, sitting at the Doctor’s office, or just hanging out at the house, my Bible was always in my pocket. I had the added benefit of being able to bookmark verses and add notes as I went.

The M’Cheyne reading plan gives you four passages each day. Each day has two passages from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and one from either the Psalms or the Gospels. In one year, you read the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. I liked the plan, but at times it seemed a little strange reading four different stories at once. Next time I plan on using one of the chronological plans.  As a church, we’re going to be using the NewThru30 plan starting January 1st to read through the New Testament in 30 days. I’m excited to see more people engage Scripture, and YouVersion is a great app to let you do just that.

Apparently, I’m not the only one reading the Bible on my phone, check out the following graphic from the YouVersion blog. As of November, the YouVersion app has been installed on 10 million devices. Next up, they want to see people spend 1 billion minutes reading Scripture in January of 2011. Are you up for the challenge?

Hosting a blog is not always cheap, especially if you host it yourself. I know many different pastors and church technology enthusiasts visit this site, so I wanted to share about the Beacon Ad Network. Selling ads on websites can be tricky. The point of this blog is not to make money, but it would be nice to cover some of my costs. Any extra income is appreciated in today’s economy.

Beacon Ads allows companies to find Christian blogs or websites that are a good match for their advertising. It’s simple, effective, and fast. If you are an advertiser, you can view all the relevant statistics of the potential sites, and you can track how well the ads are working. If you are the blogger, Beacon frees you up to blog and not worry about handling all the administrative details of managing your advertisements.  They take a percentage of the advertising income as their payment, so there is no up front cost to you.

Overall, it’s a win-win relationship. They help you get the word out about quality products, and they allow advertisers to find popular websites to advertise on. If you are interested in advertising here on FaithEngineer, I have opened up a few ad spots. Click below to find out the details.

Kindle vs. Nook Color

December 20, 2010 — 4 Comments

On Saturday I was able to finally check out the new Nook color ereader. I have a 2nd generation Kindle and I have played around with the newer 3rd generation as well. I have read around fifty books on my kindle, so it is definitely well used. Overall, the new Kindle and the new Nook Color are both great units. I’ve had several people ask me which one is better. So here’s my quick analysis of the features that matter most.

Battery Life

Kindle is the clear winner with a battery that can last up to a month if you turn off wireless. The Nook color has a battery life of around 8 hours with the wifi turned off. With the Nook, you would have to charge and charge often. I took my Kindle on a 10 day trip and didn’t even take the charger with me.

Display

This is a tough comparison because of the two different screen displays. For reading books, the Kindle wins out. It is easier on the eyes and you can read in direct sunlight. For magazines, newspapers, games, and the web, the Nook Color is better. And the Nook Color is a touchscreen, so it is easier to use. I don’t know how many times I find myself poking at the screen of my kindle expecting to navigate pages.

Price

The Kindle 3G is $139, and when you add in 3G the cost goes up to $189. The Nook Color is $249

Web Browsing

The 2nd generation Kindle has a web browser in the experimental menu, but it is just plain terrible. It is slow and the formatting on most pages in unreadable.  The 3rd generation Kindle made a huge jump and switched to a webkit browser, which works great. It is now usable for checking email and basic web activities. However, the Nook Color is based on the Android operating system and it just blows away the Kindle while browsing the web.

Future Potential

Here is where I think the advantage goes to the Nook Color. The Kindle is great for reading books, but that is it. Since the Nook is based on Android, it can expand far beyond a typical ereader. Barnes & Noble has announced that there will be apps available on the Nook in the future. Some people have already rooted the Nook and installed Android apps on it. Pandora is already installed on the Nook and as more apps are added, it becomes more of a tablet and less of an ereader.

Verdict

For reading books, I think the Kindle is still the clear winner. It is the cheaper unit and the longer battery life is the game changer. The Nook Color is much tougher to evaluate. I really like it and I am interested by it, but I can’t see myself ever buying one. It is a hybrid between an android phone and an iPad. The price is good, but I don’t really know where it fits in. When it comes right down to it, I would rather have an iPad. If they open up the operating system and allow you to install any android apps, then it might have a chance. Do you have either one? If so, what do you like or dislike? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Spiritual Markers

December 14, 2010 — Leave a comment

As I think through the past ten years, there are a few church services that really stand out in my mind. One was a youth service on April 1st of 2001. My wife and I were serving at a country church as part time youth leaders. We had just got back from taking over 50 teenagers to a Student Conference, and we turned over part of the morning worship service to our teens so they could share about what they learned. What happened next was a youth revival. Student after student stood before the church and shared what God was doing in their life. Instead of a few minutes, they took the entire service and more. And it was on that morning when I shared that God was leading me into ministry. I didn’t know what it would look like, and I didn’t know where I would end up, but I knew things were about to change. That morning sparked a journey that led students to enroll in seminary and even serve as missionaries and it has led me to become a pastor. I still have the VHS tape of that service, and it is one that I will never forget.

This past week at Cornerstone was another one of those services. Our mission team shared about their recent trip to Nicaragua. It seemed like everything was stacked against them sharing. We had to cancel the service the week before when they were supposed to share because of snow.  And we didn’t make a decision about this week’s service until early Sunday morning. We had to cancel our early service because of ice and cold, but we decided to have our 11am service. Everyone was glad we did. It was a powerful service where we heard not about what they did, but about what God did in their hearts. I am so proud of our team members for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I just stayed out of the way and let God move. It’s awesome when that happens.

I think it’s important for us to look back to the Spiritual markers in our life. The moments and events that formed us and shaped us. The experiences that caused us to change our direction and focus on following Christ completely. The Israelites built alters to remember those events, and we should not forget the power that comes from realizing that our God has been faithful.

Here is the video from Sunday.

Mission Team Update from Cornerstone on Vimeo.

iPad Worship

December 7, 2010 — 2 Comments

We were snowed in this past Sunday and church was canceled, so I decided to tune and and catch some of the online church services. I listened to the early service at Newspring Live and then tuned in to watch the Northpoint Online service. They opened up with this Christmas medley done completely with iPods and iPads and iPhones. I’ve seen several bands pull this off on youtube, but this was a fun creative way to open a church service. These handbells are actually cool. I wonder how much practice it took to pull this off?

I saw this video earlier today about 7 different churches coming together to create a combined youth ministry. Examples like this excite me because churches typically don’t cooperate very well. At Cornerstone, we have tried to partner with other area youth ministries, and I would love to see even more cooperation take place in the future. I want to continue to try and break down denominational, racial, and social barriers that exist in our community.

thanks to Youth Specialities for the link

Christmas Reading Plan

December 2, 2010 — Leave a comment

I’ve shared before about how much I like YouVersion. It’s a Bible application that you can access for free from your mobile device or the web. They have a number of great Bible Reading Plans that help you get into a habit of reading God’s Word. Reading Scripture is an important discipline of the Christian life. It connects us to the very voice of God, and that’s why I urge everyone to read their Bible on a daily basis.

The team at YouVersion has released a great Christmas reading plan. They have included reflection questions and action steps that you can take each day. This is a great way to share the Christmas story with your family. In today’s society, it is hard to keep our focus on Christ during this crazy time of year. Taking time each day to think about the true meaning of Christmas is so important for us as believers. This plan is 25 days long, so if you start now it will take you through Christmas day. Click below to find out more.

What are some of the ways that your family keeps the focus on Christ during Christmas? Leave me a comment below with your ideas.

This week our church has a mission team in Nicaragua.  We have partnered with Because We Care Ministries to do numerous trips to Nicaragua in the past.  Each time the teams come back with incredible stories of God at work. We are able to do construction and radio ministry in the mornings, and then in the afternoon the team will distribute food and medical supplies to remote villages.  Yesterday during our early 9:15 church service, we were able to video chat with the team over Skype. It is absolutely amazing how technology can help you connect and communicate across the world.

This year, we also have another way to hear and see updates from the team. Each night at 8pm Eastern Time, you can watch a live NicaNews video webcast from Because We Care Ministires on UStream. I have also embedded the channel below so you can watch right here on the website.

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